Going together, enjoying the trip
Getting used to the family
I’ll spend eternity with.
Learning to love you,
How easy it is;
Getting used to the family of God.
—Bill and Gloria Gaither
At dawn on April 9, 1945, Adolf Hitler’s henchmen murdered Dietrich Bonhoeffer at Flossenburg Concentration Camp.
Known for his leadership in the “Confessing Church” — a group that tried to remain true to the tenets of Scripture — Bonhoeffer also spread love between fellow believers. This was especially true of his theology students (his “Ordinands”) whom he taught for years at Zingst.
Then, as now, a strong brotherliness existed among believers; a solidarity that nearly defies definition and is often stronger than earthly family ties.
Christ was aware of such closeness. Once when his mother and brothers came to see Him, He asked, “Who are my mother and my brothers? Then he looked at those seated in a circle around Him and said, “‘Here are my mother and my brothers’” (Mark 3:33, 34).
Not only do we have blessed fellowship here, but we will enjoy each other’s presence throughout eternity. Even though we will have a new body then, we will retain some of our likeness in Heaven, perhaps voice and appearance.
Apparently, we will know each other as we do here. Will a brother who bores us here bore us there? Will idiosyncracies carry over? We will just have to wait and see.
This reminds me of a conversation I had in a hospital with a patient whose illness was terminal. She knew she would die soon and she wanted to discuss Heaven. Finally she said, “I’ll tell you one thing, when I get there I want God to put me all the way across Heaven from Mama.” Let’s trust that both Mama and her daughter made it through the pearly gates.
Though the togetherness we share here may sometimes be wearing, it is fundamentally good. It is good that we learn to bear each others burdens — the strong for the weak and the weak for the strong.
The Apostle Paul realized how firmly we are all part of God’s family. To the church at Ephesus he wrote: “You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19, 20).
Charles Swindoll said: “Nobody is a whole chain. Each one is a link. But take away one link and the chain is broken. Nobody is a whole team. Each one is a player. But take away one player and the game is forfeited. ... You guessed it. We need each other.”
Finally, the Apostle John gives us a glimpse of part of our family in Heaven: “A great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb [Christ]” (Revelation 7:9).